Finding Sharon

Fiction - Western
224 Pages
Reviewed on 03/30/2013
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Author Biography

Dave McGowan was born in Collingwood, Ont. and has lived in Owen Sound, Caledon, Heathcote, (in BC) Ft. St. John, Vancouver, (back to Ont.) Jarvis, Oshawa, Windsor, (Alb.) Calgary, Ft. Saskatchewan, (BC) Kelowna and Dawson Creek.
He has been a cowboy, forest firefighter, heavy equipment operator, farmhand, gardener, road musician and businessman. He lives with his wife, Karen, and children and grand children in Northern British Columbia, where he works as a commercial driver.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

Henry James, also known as Hank, was twenty-one when he and his partner Harry Gilmore decided to homestead. Hank was actually looking for Sharon Dalton too, whom he had fallen hard for while they were living in Farwell, BC, where Hank had a successful freight business. When she abruptly left town Hank sold his business and followed her to Fort Calgary. As Hank staked a claim to their homesteads they learned that the Norfolk Cattle Company run by Portis Martin had been running rough shod over the homesteaders. When Portis tried his tactics with Hank he quickly learned that Hank wasn't your average "nester" when he refused to back down, but that didn't stop Martin and his employer from doing their best to get rid of Hank. Will Hank outwit his enemy, and even if he does, can his homestead survive the brutal winter conditions?

Mr. McGowan takes the reader back to the days when a man could claim a piece of land and if he became a successful homesteader he would soon own the land. What made this story unique for me is that I normally read these types of stories about America not Canada where "Homesteader" takes place. I found myself absorbed not only in the story, but the history lesson that I felt I was getting as the story unfolded. The plot never lags; instead it pulled me along making me wonder what might happen on the next page. Mr. McGowan skilfully crafts his words bringing to life the scenes he describes, and in several instances even allows the reader to feel the scenes he is describing, from the freezing cold of winter, to the fear and nervousness the "enemy" felt as they saw the Blackfoot warriors painted and ready for a fight. I also found myself laughing as I visualized a shocked cowboy trying to hang on for dear life when his horse is spooked. It was easy to see that the author really did his research with this story, from the range war to the way Hank and his two Blackfoot workers build the homestead. The details really make the story seem very realistic. I also found myself enjoying the secondary story of Hank and Sharon and couldn't help but wonder how that would turn out. Fans of historical fiction with an authentic feel that provides several twists, a bit of mystery, romance, and suspense, will certainly enjoy this story.

Rich Follett

“Homesteader; Finding Sharon” by D. M. McGowan chronicles the experience of Henry ‘Hank’ James, a homesteader in British Columbia, Canada, in the late 1880’s. “Homesteader” offers a fascinating window into a brave and formative era in Canadian history. McGowan writes with a cinematographer’s eye and a playwright’s sense of dialect; the result is an easy-to-read, entertaining saga that is as determined and winning as the settlers it describes - plain spoken, honest and impossible to put down. In Henry James, McGowan has created a character readers want to cheer for. As ‘Hank’ weathers the schemes and manipulations of the portly (and aptly named) Portis Martin and struggles to keep his cattle alive against impossible odds through one of the worst winters in Canadian history, readers become personally acquainted with a colorful cast of supporting characters and the harsh realities of a homesteader’s life. Hank has got his eye on a lady, too, but you’ll have to read “Homesteader” for yourself to find out where that trail leads...

“Homesteader” has it all - adventure, romance, nature, drama and actual history. Many of the events of the story happen within and around real-life headlines from the period. "Homesteader” is as educational as it is entertaining and appropriate for audiences of all ages. This book could just as easily occupy a shelf in the historical fiction, western, or romance sections of the local bookstore. In “Homesteader,” D. M. McGowan has written an engaging, seamless tale with universal appeal. Stake your claim and be ready for a thrilling ride!

Paul Johnson

When Hank James rides into the country he is looking for two things, his lost love and land to live out his dreams. But, claiming a homestead in the rugged, untamed lands of Canada in the late 1800s can be anything but easy particularly when you are a ‘nester’. The big cattle corporations claim most of the land in the area and want to keep it that way. Hank’s first confrontation is with Portis Martin, manager of one of the largest cattle ranches. Porter can’t stand nesters and uses every trick available to get rid of them. However, things change with the arrival of Hank and his partner Henry Gilmore. For many, the strong arm tactics of Martin and the like plus the harshness of the Canadian winters takes its toll. The dreams of the homesteading in the western lands are often not enough to get them through adversity. Too often they realize they cannot follow those dreams and are forced to move on. Hank and Henry, and their diverse crew, have a strong sense of right and wrong and the determination to do what is right as they bring other ‘nesters’ together to present a united front against the faceless land grabbing cattle companies.

I have always been a fan of stories of the old west, in this instance it is fortunately the Canadian west. "Homesteader" is a story of action and adventure set against a backdrop that can be very harsh at times. It shows the true strength of the folks looking for a new home of their own. The main characters are very well-defined even though the law enforcement does seem at times to be a tad naive. All in all, a satisfying plot with enough action to keep the reader turning the pages to see what will happen next to Hank and all. Well done.

R. A. Quinn

Homesteader, Finding Sharon is as unique a western that I have ever read. It takes place in 1886, in Canada. Friends Hank and Harry set out to homestead near Calgary and learn firsthand how ruthless the ones who control the cattle could be. Hank James is different than the average homesteader and stands his ground.

I drove through that area this past summer and this book took me back to some of the most beautiful country Canada has to offer. This is not only a well written story but it seems to be a history lesson as well. The cattle industry was not limited to the open ranges in the U.S., nor was the fight for that range. You will not be disappointed in how author D.M. McGowan has spun this fine western novel.

If you are a fan of westerns or well told stories, Homesteader, Finding Sharon will not disappoint at all.